- In US academics, poetry and fiction are separate. Conventional wisdom says poetry is elliptical and lyrical – showing inner states. Conventional wisdom says fiction should use character and narrative.
- Why does the American academy separate analysis of these two genres? Possibly because Americans are suspicious of generalists.
- Some new writers are generalists who cross boundaries. Rita Dove is an example: she writes both poetry and fiction. Dove notes that in Germany writers commonly cross genres.
- Dove’s poems have narrative, and her narrative is lyrical. So not only does she write in both genres: her works in any one genre also cross boundaries.
This passage has potentially dull subject matter, but there isn’t actually anything too complex happening in it.
Basically, the US academic community unnaturally separates poetry and fiction into specialized study. This happens because Americans distrust generalists. Rita Dove is an example of a recent artist who doesn’t separate genres. Her poetry has narrative, and her fiction is lyrical.
That paragraph is the whole passage. Obviously, there are more details that I haven’t included. So, if a question ask about what lyricism means, you would look in paragraph 1, or maybe paragraph 4. But you don’t need to know all the details. You just need to know that general structure.
There are some words you need to know though, if you don’t know them already. It’s a good idea to look up unfamiliar words in the dictionary when reviewing a passage:
- Narrative: A story e.g. a novel, a newspaper article on a topic
- Lyrical: Like music, like poetry
- Prose: Writing that isn’t poetry. For example, this explanation is prose.
- Poetry: Language with a structure. E.g. rhymes, lyrics, sort of like music. Generally beautiful and full of feeling.
- Fiction: made up writing.
- Narrative fiction: made up stuff that tells a story
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